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You are here: HomeAffinity Groups

Affinity Groups


Affinity Groups

AFFINITY GROUPS:
Affinity Groups bring together Fulbright alumni who share common interests, and some are "working groups" that tackle specific problems. Representatives of institutional members, hosts of Fulrighters and other experts also may be active in these groups.

Science is not a solitary task - it involves collaborations with many partners. Affinity groups facilitate linkage with others for short-term advice or long-term partnerships. In some cases, funding may be available and the Fulbright Academy is actively involved in the project.  In other cases, the collaboration is done one-on-one basis or with small groups of alumni.

This section of our website also has a link to our Bookstore -- books written by alumni.  If you have a book for sale via Amazon, please let us know, and we can add it to the  Bookstore. 

We currently have ten affinity groups:

  1. CEOs in Higher Education
  2. Digital Media & IT
  3. Education
  4. Entrepreneurs
  5. Global Health
  6. Lawyers, Law & Policy
  7. Science Diplomacy
  8. Sustainability
  9. Young Alumni
  10. Women in Science

 

WHAT CAN AFFINITY GROUPS DO?

Many researchers seek outside funding to support their work, funding from government agencies, foundations, even venture capitalists.  Your proposal may be strengthened by including Fulbright alumni as partners or participants in the grant proposal or with a formal affiliation with the Fulbright Academy.  The Fulbright has been included in successful project proposals, where we may serve as outside advisors, are intimately involved in the research, or work with you on promoting the results.

Another example is the many conferences that address topics of interest to members and the broader community.  The organizers of these programs want presentations and panels containing bright ideas -- and bright ideas is one of the specialties of Fulbright alumni.  Affinity groups are sources of participants for conference panels.

WHAT DO STUDY COMMITTEES DO?

A Study Committee can be an outgrowth of an Affinity Group.  A committee of Fulbright alumni and other scientific experts, with a diverse range of expertise and perspectives, is convened to address a particular set of questions.  

The reputation of the Fulbright Academy for objectivity, integrity, independence, and competence is one of our most valuable assets. For this reason, the procedures designed to ensure excellence apply to each study undertaken and to each step of the study process.  Committee members generally serve without compensation and as individuals, not as representatives of organizations or interest groups.

Member Selection:  In selecting members for a study committee, the Fulbright Academy examines three aspects of the backgrounds of candidates: relevant expertise, possible conflicts of interest, and potential sources of bias. All three aspects are assessed in terms of what the committee has been asked to do. The Academies define conflict of interest as any current financial or other interest that conflicts with the service of an individual because it impairs his or her objectivity. Potential sources of bias relate to the points of view or positions that are largely intellectually motivated or that arise from the close identification or association of an individual with a point of view of a particular group.

The Fulbright Academy evaluates the overall composition of the committee to balance the various points of view. The goal is to ensure that relevant points of view on a highly expert committee are reasonably balanced, so that the committee can carry out its charge objectively. When a question of balance arises, the usual procedure is to add members to the committee to achieve the appropriate composition. The committee membership is finalized only after the Academy is satisfied that potential conflict-of-interest issues have been dealt with, that the committee contains all the requisite expertise for its task, and that the scientific views of committee members are reasonably balanced.

A successful study is the result of an interactive process, requiring that committee members be open to new ideas and innovative solutions and be willing to learn from one another. Although the views of interested parties are given serious and respectful consideration, the committee's role is to separate fact from opinion, analysis from advocacy. Scientific standards are essential in evaluating all arguments and alternatives.

Committee Reports:  If the committee will be producing a final written report, the Fulbright Academy may appoint additional independent experts with a range of views and perspectives to review and comment anonymously on the draft report prepared by the committee.  This provides a final check on the quality and objectivity of the study.

The review process is structured to ensure that the report addresses the committee's charge and does not go beyond it; the findings are supported by the evidence and arguments presented; the organization and exposition of the report are effective and logical; and that the report is impartial and objective. After revisions are made by the committee to satisfy the institution's rigorous review process, the report is transmitted to the agency that sponsored the study and released to the public. Names of the principal reviewers are made public when the report is released.

Note:  Some of this guidance for committees was drawn from the procedures used by the US National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering.

 




What are Study Committees?

For sixty years, Fulbright scholars have been advising businesses, governments, and other organizations on a broad range of science and technology issues.  Since its creation in 1946, the goal has been to honor top scientists and promising young professionals by providing opportunties to conduct research and share their knowledge, while also serving a broader public interest - increasing mutual understanding among nations.  As an organization established by alumni of that exchange program, the Fulbright Academy continues that dual mission.

The Fulbright Academy seeks to enlist some of the world's foremost social, natural and life scientists, engineers, business and government leaders, and other experts to address the scientific and technical aspects of some of society’s most pressing problems.  Each year, selected experts will selected to serve on study committees convened to answer specific sets of questions.

Government agencies and foundations have been the primary financial sponsors of the Academys’ work.  In the future, we expect to be involved in studies funded by national governments, state agencies, businesses, other private sponsors. The Fulbright Academy provides independent advice; the external sponsors have no control over the conduct of a study once the statement of task and budget are finalized. Study committees gather information from many sources, but they deliberate in private in order to avoid political, special interest, and sponsor influence.

Through this careful study process, the Fulbright Academy produces authoritative reports and oral presentations, such as those given at our Fulbright Forums. Current projects cover such topics as bacteria and climate change and career development for scientists. Our reports may influence policy decisions; some are instrumental in enabling new research programs and collaborations; others provide program reviews.



Use of our Name

Individuals who are members of the affinity groups or participate in programs may use the Fulbright Academy's name or logo on their website and/or on other material produced as an outcome of their relationship with the Fulbright Academy, e.g. posters or slides.

 



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